Three Grade 1s feature Saturday at Santa Anita and the recently resumed Belmont.
A field of seven go in the delayed Santa Anita Derby over 1 1/8 miles. Unbeaten in three starts, favorite Authentic won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes by 7 ¾ lengths in January in spite of ducking in in the stretch. He bobbled at the start but still won the Grade 2 San Felipe in March by 2 ¼ lengths.
Trying to beat him will be second favorite Honor A.P. Second to Authentic in the San Felipe, he broke his maiden over a mile at Santa Anita in October.
Bob Baffert’s Azul Coast ran second to Authentic in the Sham. He won his last start over this trip on the all-weather at Golden Gate in February. He’s the only one in the Santa Anita Derby field to have won over the trip. Both Authentic and Honor A.P. are stepping up in trip.
Authentic gets the nod. However, 20-1 Friar’s Road, still a maiden from three starts, could get up for a place.
Santa Anita Hosts Hollywood Gold Cup
Santa Anita has restored the name of the Hollywood Gold Cup, which was transferred when Hollywood Park closed its doors. Only six go to post over the 1 ¼ miles.
Favorite is the inconsistent Higher Power, whose last victory came in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August. Since then he finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He was last of ten in the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream in January but was said to have possibly been ill with an infection.
Second favorite Midcourt ran third in the Santa Anita Handicap over course and distance in his last start in early March. Before that he won the 1 1/8-mile San Pasqual by 3 ½ lengths leading all the way. Trainer John Shirreffs takes the blinkers off here. Midcourt is the selection.
Big Field in Belmont’s Carter
Belmont’s seven-furlong Carter attracted a field of 11. The favorite is Performer, winner of four of his five starts. His last run was over further, a win in the 1 1/8-mile Discovery at Aqueduct last November.
Firenze Fire has won his last three starts, including over the trip in the Grade 3 General George at Laurel in February. It will be his first run for new trainer Kelly Breen. He breaks from the rail.
Vekoma, who breaks from the outside post, is co-second choice with Firenze Fire. He won his only start at the trip, the Sir Shackleton at Gulfstream in March. It was his first run since finishing unplaced in the Kentucky Derby.
Performer gets the nod here over Vekoma in the Carter.